The Midnight Dancers: A Fairy Tale Retold


Rachel Durham and her twelve sisters are good, evangelical of the puritan kind, girls. But they (or at least some of them) are tired of denim skirts, no make up, and of being good. Its boring. But while rearranging their room, the girls discover a secret door. Through it, in the cover of night, lies the adventure that Rachel is determined to have. But will the Twelve Dancing Princesses find too much adventure in the cover of night? And just how strong is its hold?

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I read the first two of Regina Doman’s Fairy Tale Series and loved them. And yet,  I hesitated to pick this book up. Not that I didn’t think it would be good. But because I really didn’t want to read about Blanche, Bear, and Rose again. I know, its borderline heresy to say so, but there you have it.  Of course, its always helpful to actually pick up the book and read the dust jacket. Or click over to Amazon and read the summary. Such a simple act would have saved me a bit of anguish as this book (the fourth in the series) breaks away from said characters. Note: I haven’t read book three (Waking Rose), yet, and evidently our hero, Paul Fester, is introduced to us there.

I loved it. There. That’s my review. If only all young adult authors would write such prose. If only other authors could read one of Doman’s novels and see that its possible to deal with current and relevant “teen” issues without being crass. Or rude. And even – *gasp* – manage to portray genuine truth and beauty without talking down to the reader, or sounding sickly sweet. This is a book any teen can read and relate to. Its a book that this Mom enjoyed. And why not? It stays true to the Grimm fairy tale. And what is a fairy tale, if not to give us a glimpse of truth, and beauty, and love?


  • Author: Regina Doman
  • Publisher: Chesterton Press (October 2008)
  • Hardcover 232 pages
  • Reading Age: Publisher’s recommended reading age 16+

What You Need to KnowThe Midnight Dancers

  • Role Models/Authority Figures – Paul Fester is a young, faithful Catholic. The Durham parents are loving parents, if not overly strict and puritanical. The girls respect them.
  • Violence – Paul and Michael fight. Michael ties Paul up and the scene grows rather intense as the young men torture Paul, college style.
  • Sexual Content – The girls flirt and dance with older teens/young men whose intentions toward them are less than honorable. Paul speaks with Rachel about the dignity of women (as opposed to objects). Rachel accuses Paul of kissing her without her consent (and implies more). Michael threatens to rape Rachel (she is rescued).
  • Language – None.
  • Consumerism – None.
  • Drinking/Smoking/Drugs – The temptations of the dark life include drinking, cigarettes, and marijuana.
  • Religion – Paul is Catholic and he (and his father) are the wise ones in this tale. The book paints a fairly harsh picture of puritanical evangelicalism, while demonstrating the freedom found in the Catholic church.
  • Other – the book is based on the Twelve Dancing Princesses, found in Lang’s Red Fairy Book. It can also be found in Grimm’s Fairy Tales. As always, the author has provided a Picky Parents Guide.
  • Awards


Black as Night

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Blanche has graduated from high school and can’t decide what to do next. Bear can’t figure out what to do either. Their lives diverge until Blanche finds herself on the other side of the mirror and in grave danger.  As fate would have it, she finds refuge with a small group of Franciscan brothers. And, as the story goes, its only a matter of time before the wicked witch discovers her hiding place. Will her Prince Charming find her in time? Or will the poisoned apple be her last bite?

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Another excellent novel by Regina Doman. While the beginning of the novel dragged a bit for me, the writing itself never disappoints. It’s refreshingly good.  Parents should remember this is a modern retelling of a fairy tale (Snowdrop, it can be found in Lang’s Red Fairy Book). Good and Beauty and Truth are at the heart of every good fairy tale even as they do battle against their dark counterparts.

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  • Author: Regina Doman
  • Publisher: Regina Doman (October 6, 2008)
  • Reading Age: 14 and up
  • Paperback: 294 pages

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What You Need to Know

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  • Role Models/Authority Figures – Blanche is spending her time visiting the sick and taking care of the dying. The Franciscan brothers tend to the poor. They are portrayed as wise, humble, good, and human.
  • Violence – Blanche is mugged, choked, and poisoned. Bear gets into a street fight. Bear is poisoned and then tied up. There is a gunfight at the end. The villain is killed.
  • Sexual Content – A bag lady suggests to Blanche that she would make a good prostitute if she is “not afraid of going down.” And later the bag lady suggests to Blanche that “sex…that’s what it is…wicked. Disgusting” (161). Blanche makes mental note of the truth, “sex isn’t wicked in and of itself.” (161). Bear’s stepmother attempts to seduce Bear first in a flashback, and later within the story.
  • Language – None.
  • Consumerism – None. Unless you count quoting Emily Dickinson.
  • Drinking/Smoking/Drugs – Blanche’s co-workers smoke. Illegal drugs (Ecstasy) have been planted in effort to frame Blanche. We see the behavior of the villain on these drugs.
  • Religion – The story takes place in a Catholic setting, but isn’t explicitly Catholic.
  • Other – The author provides her own Picky Parents Guide to the novel. This is a modern retelling of Snowdrop, the other fairy tale about Snow White. It can be found in Lang’s Red Fairy Book. It isn’t necessary to read Shadow of the Bear before this novel, but it may be helpful.
  • Awards


The Shadow of the Bear: A Fairy Tale Retold

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Once upon a time there were two sisters, Snow White and Rose Red.  They lived in the woods New York with their mother. One day they met a Bear…A modern retelling of the classic Grimm fairy tale, Snow White and Rose Red (not to be confused with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves).

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The Shadow of the Bear: A Fairy Tale Retold, is a beautiful modernization of an old Grimm classic. Refreshingly, the novel remains faithful to the original fairy tale and is absent of any post modern existential drivel. In this version, the main characters are Catholic and exhibit strong morals, practice modesty, and have rather weighty discussions of Truth and Beauty (yes, with capitals). It is, in the strictest sense, true to form. Between the covers you will find good and evil, Truth and Beauty, Prince and Princesses, and even a bit of G.K. Chesterton.

While the reading age is 13 and above, some of the content may be more mature than that.  Go ahead and read the details below and make up your own mind.

If you aren’t familiar with the original Grimm tale, I recommend reading the original first. It’s a short read and can be found in Andrew Lang’s Blue Fairy Book.

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  • Author: Regina Doman
  • Publisher: Regina Doman (October 6, 2008)
  • Reading Age: Ages 13 and up
  • Paperback 228 pages

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What You Need to Know

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  • Role Models/Authority Figures – Jean Brier, a widow, is a compassionate and caring mother to Blanche and Rose. She sets reasonable boundaries for her high school daughters and expects them to conform. Sister Geraldine, Dominican Nun and English teacher at St. Catherine’s is described physically as old and perhaps a bit hard, but is portrayed as astute and exacting of her students.
  • Violence – This is a modern fairy tale. Instead of spears, there are guns. A priest has been murdered (shot, then strangled) and there are still blood stains in the (now closed) church. We don’t actually see the murder, just read about it through the characters. Mr. Freet pulls a gun on Rose, he hits her with the gun, and attempts to suffocate her with a plastic bag (page 172 +). Mr. Freet shoots Bear (195). There are several fist fights.
  • Sexual Content – Rose attends prom with a boy who attempts to take advantage of her (113). The scene is set and Rob’s intentions are implied but Rose cleverly escapes. Rose learns Rob and “his buddies track down girls just to score with them.” (133). Rob states: “she’s the one who doesn’t want to grow up.” Rose replies, “That kind of love is sacred. Something for real men who have the guts to make a life long commitment…” (134)
  • Language – “Holy Candlesticks, sister!” (139)
  • Consumerism – None, unless you count the specific naming of G.K. Chesterton, Carrol, C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, and other classic poets. As an antithesis to Chesterton, Shaw.
  • Drinking/Smoking/Drugs – Blanche is concerned Bear is a drug dealer. Mr. Freet has drug dealers at the school do some of his dirty work. The teenagers are drinking at Rob’s prom party (111), the “wrong crowd” smokes.
  • Religion – The book is not specifically Catholic in nature. The family is Catholic, the girls attend Catholic school, and Truth and Beauty are emphasized and discussed.
  • Other – the author provides her own “Picky Parents Guide.”
  • Awards